Cover: Living with Debt: How to Limit the Risks of Sovereign Finance, Economic and Social Progress in Latin America, 2007 Report, from Harvard University PressCover: Living with Debt in PAPERBACK

Living with Debt

How to Limit the Risks of Sovereign Finance, Economic and Social Progress in Latin America, 2007 Report

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$29.95 • £26.95 • €27.95

ISBN 9781597820332

Publication Date: 03/01/2007


326 pages

25 tables and 164 two-color illustrations

David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies


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This report advances the modern thinking about sovereign debt and public asset management. Traditional analysis of public debt vulnerability focuses on the level of debt and, at best, on the currency composition and maturity structure of that debt. The modern view puts risk management at the center of the analysis. It follows from this analysis that there is a need for more sophisticated contingencies and insurance arrangements. The report facilitates the road toward implementation of the new strategy, not only through informed advocacy, but also by highlighting practical obstacles and ways around them. It is a tour de force.—Ricardo J. Caballero, Ford International Professor of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Everything you wanted to know about sovereign debt but were afraid to ask: When, how, does debt become unmanageable? What is the true cost of default? Why is Latin America debt crisis prone? How far can countries go in using derivatives, contingent debt or local currency bonds? What role can international financial institutions play in implementing new insurance schemes? For all those who believe, with the authors, that tranquil times are the best to discuss and introduce new ideas that can prevent the next crisis: reading this report is a must.—Daniel Cohen, Professor of Economics, École Normale Superieure, Paris

The report provides a comprehensive analysis of both the challenges that public debt poses for developing economies and a rich set of new ideas aimed at addressing them. An adaptation of Vito Tanzi’s famous quote on taxation is an excellent way to summarize the main lesson of this document: discussions of public debt in developing countries are not about the pursuit of the optimal but about the art of the possible. This report shows that indeed this is a fine art.—Enrique Mendoza, Professor of International Economics and Finance, University of Maryland, College Park

Here we have an invaluable primer of lessons from Latin America on living with debt to make life in emerging markets less risky in times to come. Key issues are examined with professional panache: whether ‘ability’ or ‘willingness to pay’ accounts for default; what factors explain debt volatility and how to manage them; how international financial institutions can help mitigate capital market crises of the twenty-first century. A must-read for policymakers and aficionados of debt and development everywhere.—Marcus Miller, Professor of Economics, University of Warwick

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